A search for Billy Graham leads to Cliff Richard and sex abuse

August 16, 2014

I usually just find the advice column he still has at the Kansas City Star but today, something a little less fun to read. This from the Guardian the other day:

A police raid on a home owned by Cliff Richard is part of an investigation into an allegation of sexual assault on a boy at a rally held by the evangelical US preacher Billy Graham three decades ago.

Richard’s property in Berkshire was searched on Thursday by detectives investigating the claim that the boy, aged under 16 at the time, was abused by an adult at a faith event held by the US pastor in Sheffield, Yorkshire in the 1980s. The rally was held at Bramall Lane, the home of Sheffield United Football Club.

I wonder what they thought would still be on the property after all this time, but I guess that’s the point of looking. One never knows.

Richard, who is currently in Portugal, said the claim was “completely false” and that the raid on his Berkshire property came without notice.

He said in a statement: “For many months I have been aware of allegations against me of historic impropriety which have been circulating online. The allegations are completely false.

South Yorkshire Police aren’t at a point of accusing or arresting anyone but Richard states that he’ll cooperate with the investigation even though he’s not happy about it.

(Unrelated, but noted in the article: Richard credits Billy Graham with his conversion to Christianity at a London rally in 1966.)

Police said the search was not connected to Operation Yewtree, established in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal, which is being run by the Metropolitan police.

Oh My Flying Spaghetti Monster, blogging creates a lot of extra homework, but it’s worth doing. Operation Yewtree turns out to be a police investigation into sex abuse allegations surrounding celebrities, mostly. Usually the reported abuse happened many years ago and the accusations are just coming to light now.

Savile was a well known star in the UK and, after his death, rumours of sexual misconduct started surfacing and ITV ran a documentary focusing on that. Rolf Harris has also been charged thanks to this and is now in jail. (He’s the Aussie who sung “Tie me Kangaroo Down, Sport” and “Six White Boomers” – two faves from my childhood. Sigh.)

Back to the Guardian article:

Journalists and photographers had maintained a vigil in front of the Charter secondary school, opposite the estate, while helicopters from media organisations hovered overhead. One resident said: “We knew there was something going on when we heard the helicopters and then we saw it on the news. He’s got a lot of fans. A lot of people are going to be very shocked [by the allegations].”

Well, all they can do is wait and see what comes of it all, I guess.


Sexual assault scandal hits religion TV – again

June 28, 2012

The Trinity Broadcasting Network is under fire at the moment on account of a lawsuit going on. It involves a granddaughter of the network’s founders. Carra Crouch, age 19, is claiming she was raped by a 30 year male employee when she was thirteen and that TBN executives hushed it up rather than report it to the authorities.

“Jan (Crouch) became furious and began screaming at Ms. Crouch, a thirteen year old girl, and began telling her ‘it is your fault,’” according to the suit.

Carra Crouch then told John Casoria, TBN’s in-house counsel and her second cousin; he became agitated and told her that he didn’t believe her, it says. “He elaborated by stating he further believed she was already sexually active ‘so it did not really matter’ and he ‘believed she may have propositioned him,’ ” the suit alleges.

Unfortunately, that’s often the way rape reports are received. A fine upstanding man.. he must have been coerced by that Lolita!

“Ms. Crouch, a thirteen year old girl, had not been sexually active and was absolutely devastated about what happened and about how John and Jan responded to her.”

Both Jan Crouch and John Casoria are ordained ministers, and as such, are legally required to report suspected child abuse to authorities under the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act, the suit says. No report was made, and TBN “deliberately covered up the incident to protect Trinity Broadcasting from negative publicity,” it alleges.

I knew about this station, I think, but being Canadian and without cable or satellite (by choice), no surprise it never occurred to me to look into news about them. Apparently I missed a money scandal back in February. Brittany Koper, Carra’s sister, accused the TBN board of diverting millions of dollars away from their charity work. TBN, on the other hand, filed suit against Koper and her husband the month before, accusing them of siphoning the money while they were on TBN’s board. That suit was dismissed in January, unsettled.

Redemption Strategies Inc. — a corporation formed by Loe on Oct. 17 — sued the Koperts on Oct. 18, charging embezzlement, fraud, intentional misrepresentation and other misdeeds. At the time, Davert & Loe were still representing Koper, MacLeod said.

“It’s kind of a sordid affair,” said MacLeod, Koper’s attorney. “Many layers. But at the heart is the wrongful termination. She was terminated for insider whistleblowing.”

MacLeod is getting to be something of an old hand at suing TBN: He represented Brian Dugger, a gay broadcast engineer who sued Trinity in 2009, claiming he was harassed and discriminated against by employees of the world’s largest Christian broadcasting empire. Paul Crouch Jr. allegedly taunted Dugger with pornography, said TBN was no place for fairies and declared that ‘Brian has a man-gina!’ ”

Nice.

A bit more hunting got me a story from 2004 involving President and founder, Paul Crouch, and an accusation that he had a brief affair with a man by the name of Lonnie Ford back in 1996. That article reminds readers of other televangelist scandals, namely Jim Bakker (affair with and attempted pay off of a former Playboy playmate employed by him) and Jimmy Swaggart (admitted porn and prostitute addict).

The Crouches also have a singular line in defensiveness when it comes to criticism of the station – criticism that has spanned many lawsuits and included accusations from rival Christian organisations that TBN is spreading blasphemy.

“God, we proclaim death to anything or anyone that will lift a hand against this network and this ministry that belongs to you, God,” Crouch said in 1997.

A few years earlier, he reacted even more vehemently to critics he characterised as “heresy hunters.” “To hell with you!” he ranted during a praise-a-thon in 1991. “Quit blocking God’s bridges or God’s going to shoot you – if I don’t.”

The Crouches are positively tame compared with Benny Hinn, the network’s star performer, who has preached that Adam was a superman who flew to the moon and expressed his belief that one day the dead will be raised by watching TBN from inside their coffins.

I admit to a bit of a cackle over that one. I’ve heard of Benny Hinn somehow..or am I thinking of Benny Hill? Who’s funnier?

Anyway, this whole group seems like one I should do more research on. I’m really wondering what else I might have missed.


Former Saskatoon priest charged with sexual abuse

February 8, 2012

CBC Radio 1 mentioned 89 year old William Hodgson Marshall this morning so I went hunting for more information. From CBC I learn he’s in custody in Kingston, Ontario and awaiting trial:

Marshall was a priest, basketball coach and mathematics teacher at St. Paul’s High School in Saskatoon between 1958 and 1961. The all-boys school, which was on the 400 block of 22nd St. E. downtown, closed in 1967.

On Tuesday, the Saskatoon police said Marshall has been charged in connection with indecent assaults that took place in 1959 and 1960.

The two alleged victims, now both 66 years old, were 14 at the time.

The Crown prosecutor’s office is arranging for a court appearance to take place in Ontario, Saskatoon police said.

In a written statement, Saskatoon Bishop Donald Bolen said the diocese was recently informed of the new charges.

“In all such cases, our first concern is for the suffering of those who have been abused. We are called to listen and to assist in whatever way possible as they move toward healing,” Bolen said.

Hmm. In other such cases I’ve read about, the Catholic church’s first concern has been to move the priest and/or pretend it never happened. Like in Memphis, and France, and Ireland and elsewhere. And, in a lot of cases, possibly all of them, it was a Vatican approved decision. These days the Vatican is under fire for not doing enough to protect victims and people are demanding a change. A New York Times article posted yesterday notes a conference finishing up in Europe where this has been the main issue being discussed.

Terence McKiernan, president of BishopAccountability.org , said the conference was intended to “change the subject and look like progress.”

“The Vatican is afraid, and it has reason to be,” he said, in light of recent charges against the church, including a complaint filed against the Vatican with the International Criminal Court.

The conference, which began on Monday and runs for four days, drew about 200 delegates, more than half of them bishops but also victims, rectors of Catholic universities and religious superiors. Cardinal William J. Levada, who heads the Vatican office that deals with allegations of clerical abuse, said Monday in his keynote speech that over 4,000 cases of sexual abuse of minors had been reported to his office in the past decade as the church toughened its responses. “We are still learning,” he said. “We need to help each other find the best ways to help victims, protect children,” and to educate priests “to be aware of this scourge and to eliminate it from the priesthood.”

Would step one be to boot out the priests known to be doing it and let the police and courts make mincemeat out of them? Put the ones suspected on some kind of probation where they’re never allowed to be alone with young boys? Apologize profusely for letting this get so out of hand and then offer to build and fund (but not operate) real counseling centers where real psychologists and other professionals won’t resort to prayer as a band-aid fix-it-all? That’s just off the top of my head, of course. I don’t know what they’ll actually decide on as a course of action.

It’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, comes of this.


Weighing in on a sexism issue

February 18, 2011

There’s been a discussion/airing of grievances going on regarding a recent panel discussion at an atheist conference and the treatment of women there and elsewhere. Things got testy after some suggestions were made about women and men, and how each acts and reacts to certain behaviours. You can read the original post at Blag Hag that started this most recent round of debates on the issue, or this one from the same site trying to clarify the original article, or this one at Butterflies and Wheels that comments on video taken from that conference or even P.Z. Myers’ recent “shut up and listen to the women” post and the comments it inspired.

One of the gals in my Freethinker group has decided to start a Reasonable Women group and her decision has been met with mixed reviews. Some think it’s sexist to start a women-only meet but I’ve decided to give it a try because I’m often the only girl who turns up at pub nights and while the guys have interesting conversations, it’d be nice to talk to women, too, who might have other interests or approaches to topics that guys might not consider.

Now onto what I really wanted to write about. I’m wondering how much of the trouble between the sexes is caused by language and how each gender has been socialized to interpret it.

For example, I’m a big fan of FARK. I’m in there on a daily basis reading whatever gets posted as news, often finding myself amused by the word play used for the headline submissions. Sometimes I’m more disgusted than amused, though. Read the rest of this entry »


Jesus Onetouch jailed, human rights advocates thrilled

January 22, 2011

Onetouch (real name Nana Kofi Yirenkyi) made headlines last year after accusations that he’d slept with his daughter, who was 10 at the time. The congregation of the church he founded, Jesus Blood Prophetic Ministries at Oblogo, Ghana, filled the courtroom during the trial to offer support for their supposed prophet, and the courtyard outside. They were devastated by the result of the trial. Some chose to look at his incarceration positively, though.

“God is the final judge, he will intervene,” he said, adding “Someone is responsible for the way the verdict has gone.” Pastor Nobleman Appiah, Assistant Resident Pastor, urged church members to continue to support the convict through prayers, adding that perhaps there was a purpose for which he was being imprisoned. “The inmates at the prison also need salvation,” he added.

There will be appeals, of course, and accusations that the case was mishandled and all the usual malarky used to deny the fact that a religious man can still be an abusive bastard who deserves what he gets.

Interesting reason why they support him:

It was gathered that Prophet Yirenkyi, after having sex with his daughter, releases his sperms into a white ‘miracle’ handkerchief and then uses the same handkerchief to clean the little girl’s vagina.

Family sources say the belief is that the handkerchief is the source of Prophet Yirenkyi’s miracle powers and that more people would flock to his church anytime he sleeps with the poor damsel.

So they got him for both incest and defilement, to do ten years for each crime. He came up with something pretty clever to say while they led him away, though, something that will likely rev up his followers:

“If I am the one who slept with my daughter, may the Almighty God kill me,”

And since god hasn’t done that…

Human rights activists applaud the outcome.

The Human Rights Advocacy Center (HRAC) on Friday described the judgment in the case the Republic verses Nana Kofi Yirenkyi ‘Jesus One Touch’, as a positive step in ensuring that the rights of all children are protected in Ghana.

“We believe that this case is an example of the ability of the criminal justice system to punish perpetrators of sexual abuse of children, no matter their age, sex or social affiliation,” a statement signed by Nana Oye Lithur, the HRAC Executive Director, said.

The statement said: “We hope that persons who sexually abuse children are punished by our law courts to serve act as a deterrent for other like minded persons in the community who continue to defile and rape our girls and boys”.

There’s a disturbing tradition in Ghana where families would willingly give a virgin daughter to a religious leader who’d then use and abuse the girl. These girls are called trokosis, slaves to a god.

Fetish priests who favor trokosi slavery view the practice as an effective means to keep people from breaking community norms. They perceive trokosi slaves as links between the gods and the family, reminding family members to lead moral lives. According to the priests, the trokosi slaves constitute role models, saving the entire family from punishment, and their example deters crime within communities. Yet, as Mark Wisdom, Executive Director of Fetish Slaves Liberation Movement, has pointed out, “If it is intended to serve as a check to crime, then we can say that it is not effective because it has existed since time immemorial but people continue to commit crimes.” Some families are so dedicated to the trokosi practice that they have sacrificed as many as five ­generations of daughters to the shrines. There are even instances in which the offense occurred so long ago no one remembers what it was, let alone who committed it.

It’s heavily rooted in fear and religious superstition, that giving a girl to the priest will save the family from hardship and keep the gods from wreaking havoc on them and their whole communities. Girls who escape or are let go are also thought to be unlucky and won’t be welcome should they try to come home. The article I quoted from is over ten years old now so I have no idea if many priests have been punished for still carrying on with this business. Hopefully so.

During a 1998 national workshop held in Ghana on the trokosi system, participants, including the Ghanaian Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Amnesty International, and the Ghana Human Rights Coalition, agreed that it would be wise to allow two years to educate fetish priests, shrine owners, and communities about the new law before prosecuting them under it.

Some activists offered shrines money in exchange for releasing slaves but that tactic worried others, in case shrines would just get more girls in the hopes of being paid more for all of them. Opponents support the shrines as beacons of morality. They also want to claim that religious freedom, as written into the Ghanaian Constitution, should be reason enough to let the practice continue.

I did find a more recent, albeit short, article outlining a proposed 10 year project to combat child abuse. Time will tell how successful that is, I guess. One area they’ll wind up focusing attention on will be northern Ghana, probably. There are camps galore in that area where those thought to be witches have been exiled. Whole families are sent to these places, including children who wind up uneducated and enslaved.

In the Kukuo witches camp in the Nanumba North District for instance, some 840 children are serving the 430 alleged witches camped there. Out of the number, only a little over 100 are enrolled in schools while the rest are engaged on a farm to work and feed their parents/relatives in the camp. This definitely is a situation which deserves urgent attention. In the Gnani witches camp also, some 894 children are in a similar predicament just for the alleged wrongs of their parents or relatives there.

So, while Onetouch’s touchiness has been dealt with, the human rights movement there is by no means finished.


edit Jan 24/10 — this I just found today, about the wife of One Touch and her devotion to him. Also:

About the young girl whose allegation resulted in her husband’s imprisonment, Agyeiwaa said “that girl behaves strangely at times.”

According to Mrs. Yirenkyi, the little girl some time ago confessed to her that she was a witch.

The girl, who is her step-daughter, once told her step-mum that she and her grandmother, also an alleged a witch, tried attacking her (Mrs. Yirenkyi) one night but they could not.

She said the little girl was also fond of describing herself as a queen in the spiritual world to her peers.

Mrs. Yirenyki claimed that she and her husband were trying to exorcise the girl’s witchcraft when the allegation of defilement and incest cropped up from nowhere.

Yeah, it’s a weird little witch girl’s fault.

Sigh.


Lest my atheist blogger status get revoked, a post on topic

June 29, 2010

But what topic?

I suppose could write about impotent prayer tactics, like the government requesting that everyone beg for supernatural aid to the continued BP gushing oil crisis. The Freedom from Religion Foundation already tore a strip out of people over that one. “Nothing fails like prayer in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, Co-President of that organization.

On the plus side, it sounds like Kevin Costner’s centrifuge idea has turned out to be really good. People may as well start worshiping Kevin Costner now. At least he’s willing to do something productive and worthwhile.

I suppose I could also mention the story about seizures in Belgium, where police raided the homes and offices of retired archbishops (and checked graves of others) looking for evidence supporting the many accusations of past sexual abuses. The Pope’s response to this was outrage – not at the fact that his organization still can’t stop those skeezy geezers and their wrinkled penises, but toward the police and their efforts to sully the good name of the Holy See. But he is claiming to promise he’ll do everything possible to protect children. Still, I doubt this means he’ll go so far as to sack all the priests accused or even allow the courts to have full run at those men and jail the ones convicted.

A six story high Jesus statue in Monroe, Ohio made news this month, not for walking on water, but because Zeus saw fit to strike it with lightning (I refuse to believe the Flying Spaghetti Monster would do such a thing!). The silly thing went up in smoke like the world’s biggest bonfire. I think plans are underway to build another one.

Idiot Americans are still defacing atheist/humanist/freethinker billboards. One went up on Billy Graham Parkway in Charlotte, paid for by Charlotte Atheists and Agnostics. It simply said, “One country, indivisible” as the original Pledge of Allegiance had phrased it and some doofus went up a ladder to scribble “Under God” on it. The Atheist Experience has announced a new one in Austin, TX: Don’t believe in God? Join the club. Love it.

Last thing to add, an ironically named “You’re not helping” atheist blog didn’t help the atheist movement at all when it was discovered that the writer of it was resorting to sockpuppetry to boost his atheist criticism comments and bolster his own arguments with fake people. He finally got what was coming to him when he got his puppet names mixed up too many times and couldn’t keep his stupid ruse going any longer. The blog is now shut down.


Polish film “Mall girls” sparks debates over morals and consumerism

March 17, 2010

The New York Times has an article about the film by Katarzyna Roslaniec and the teenage girls tarting around the shops looking for sugar daddies, or whatever they’d be called in Polish. She got to know some of these girls and used their lifestyle as the basis for her fictional movie. It premiered in the fall and shocked conservative Catholic audiences.

The film that started the discussion tells the story of four teenage girls who turn tricks in the restrooms of shopping malls to support their clothing addiction. It has attained such cult status that parents across the country say they are confiscating DVDs of the film for fear it provides a lurid instruction manual.

The revelation that Catholic girls, some from middle-class families, are prostituting themselves for a Chanel scarf or an expensive sushi dinner is causing many here to question whether materialism is polluting the nation’s soul.

It’s a backlash rebellion to uptight Catholic upbringing, too, I’m sure. It’s the dark underbelly of entrepreneurship, what these girls do. As far as they’re concerned, they’re trading for goods with the only assets available – themselves.

Marcin Drewniak, who counsels teenagers in Krakow, noted that malls had become the new community centers in Poland, providing teens with both refuge and temptation. “They can try on clothes and perfume without having to spend any money,” he said. “The mall has become a sort of fairy-tale land. All this would have been unimaginable during Communism.”

He said the typical mall girl was between 14 and 16 and came from a family with a single parent. They often abused drugs or alcohol, and sold their bodies in a search for self-esteem.

Many teens here said that mall girls were to be pitied, not emulated.

They want to be cool; they want to be popular. They want to have pretty things and be admired because they have pretty things. The desire for material things isn’t the only problem here, mind you. The guys trolling for underage girls wouldn’t have to enable them, but they do. Why? Is the desire for sex with minors too strong to fight or something? Apparently that’s an angle nobody’s focusing on, though. Why blame the guys…

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edit 2:53pm haha..forgot the link…. Serves me right for not paying attention…


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